If you haven't heard of LaMelo Ball by now, I am seriously concerned about your passion for the game of basketball. We should all know the story by now of the Ball family, but that's not what we are here to talk about. What we are here to discuss is the film and the play of the soon to be projected lottery selection in the 2020 NBA Draft. Now, LaMelo hasn't had your typical path to becoming a notable prospect in NBA circles. Ball has played in High School for a year, played overseas in Lithuania with his brother LiAngelo, and now finds himself playing in Australia in the NBL for the Illawarra Hawks. Personally, I believe the NBL move was the best idea he's had throughout this process. The NBL is a physical league that has started to rise in the eyes of national attention. It's a perfect setting for testing the ability of a young ball-handler. Right out of the gates, Ball put NBA scouts on notice with his impressive play and ability to stand out in games.
- What LaMelo will have going for him throughout the evaluation process is his ability to be a primary ball-handler with elite size. It's rare to see a point guard prospect with such fluidity for his size and that's just what Ball has to his game. The weight will be a concern moving forward, as Ball looks skinnier than his 180 pound listing on tape. LaMelo will need to commit himself to the weight room, but he's been aggressive in getting downhill and in the lane so far in the NBL.
VS ADELAIDE 36ERS 10.21.19
- "You had my curiosity, now you have my attention." Eye-opening play by LaMelo Ball here in the pick and roll game. You'll notice the big man comes out to hedge this screen but LaMelo quickly reacts and splits. Once LaMelo is past the first defender, help slides over but LaMelo reads it quickly and delivers a beautiful behind the back dime to his big for an easy two.
PATIENCE AND CHANGING GEARS
- Love this play here from LaMelo and while it might look like "nothing" to the naked eye, it shows a great demonstration of patience in his game. Look at the floor ahead once LaMelo crosses halfcourt, looks like he doesn't have much to attack. All this play took was a slight hesitation by LaMelo to set up the defender and then a quick explosive step allows him to glide to the basket for a layup.
READ AND SET IT UP
- Again, this clip might not look like much...but it shows awareness with a young ball handler. LaMelo does a great job here after catching across the court of balancing the floor and reading the defense. Once Ball realizes he has a potential opening with the defense still getting set, he attacks. LaMelo sees the defense collapse on his initial drive and kicks it out for an easy pick and pop for his teammate. The little things add up.
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- There's a lot to like in this clip. First, the back door cut and attack is what you like to see. Now for a young point guard prospect, you'll often see them try to deliver this to the corner. Ball looks for that "kick" initially but notices the angle isn't there due to the helping defender. You could even argue that his teammate on the wing should have slid down to the corner. Instead, LaMelo makes a pass that looks easy on tape...but that angle is a bit ridiculous.
ALLOWING IT TO DEVELOP
- One of my favorite things with young ball-handler prospects is when they show a great demonstration of allowing the play to develop. Sometimes, waiting another second is so crucial to creating the right angle for an assist or passing lane. Here's a perfect example of that. Notice LaMelo takes another couple of dribbles to read what the showing defender is going to do. Once he initially drops back, LaMelo attacks the lane. The defender then comes back to stop the initial drive and LaMelo then delivers a rifle assist to the big for a bucket. Great read here by LaMelo.
- I felt this was an important play to highlight in this one. With LaMelo's elite size for a primary ball-handler, you love to see him attack the boards and get out and go in transition. Here, LaMelo runs into a bit of trouble after he crosses halfcourt, as two defenders collide on him after his spin dribble. LaMelo does a great job of getting out of trouble and then immediately getting his head up to survey the floor. Great vision to see his teammate open in the corner for an open 3. Splash.
- Of course, it's early in the Draft Season so this won't be our only time taking a look at LaMelo Ball's progress overseas in the NBL, but so far the early production has been promising for Ball going up in a tough league. In 7 games so far this season, LaMelo is averaging 12.5 PTS, 5.7 REB, and 6.4 AST. Unfortunately, LaMelo is also shooting 34% from the field, which is a bit of an eye-opener. It will be interesting to see if he can get that number up to a respectable percentage, but when you look at all of the tools and potential you can see why NBA teams are intrigued with the ability of LaMelo Ball.